June 22, 2021
From the nation's leading source on all things women and politics.
Our Friend Candy Straight 
We were deeply saddened by the recent passing of Candy Straight. Candy was a champion for women’s voices and was constantly engaged in the work of bringing women into the political process. She was a leader in organizations both nationally and in NJ to expand the voice of women in politics. This included chairing the Republican Majority for Choice, serving as president of WISH List, and most recently co-founding Women for a Stronger New Jersey. She was a regular presenter at CAWP’s Ready to Run® campaign training program for women for two decades, where she brought her knowledge and expertise to generations of women. “Candy was someone I could always turn to for advice. Her insight and keen understanding of politics was unmatched and invaluable as we shaped new programs and research,” said CAWP Director Debbie Walsh. “Up to her last days, she was talking about the future for women in politics, looking for solutions, looking for ways to expand women’s influence in the Republican Party, and searching for strategies to support moderate women. It was a lifetime commitment in the most sincere sense of the word.”

Read more about Candy and her relationship to CAWP and Eagleton in our joint statement with EIP on her passing, and find out about her remarkable life via her obituary in the New Jersey Globe.
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Stalled Progress: Another Status Quo Year for New Jersey Women 
New Jersey has shown minimal progress over the past year for women’s representation in local and county offices, according to a new CAWP analysis. Union County retains the top spot in an overall ranking based on an average rank of women’s representation on local councils, mayoralties, and commissionerships. Mercer, which shared the top rank with Union in 2020, dropped to fourth place in the overall rankings, while continuing to lead New Jersey in women’s representation on town councils. Union also leads the state in women’s share of mayoralties and county commissionerships.

The state continues to see incremental progress in women’s overall representation in these offices. Women gained eight mayoralties between 2020 and 2021, an identical change as 2019 to 2020, while women gained two seats on county commissions, one more than in the previous report card. As for seats on city councils and similar offices, women gained just 15 seats since the last time CAWP compiled this data; CAWP’s 2020 New Jersey County Report Card showed a gain of 68 council seats. Women now hold 18% of mayoralties, 35% of county commissionerships, and 30% of city council seats.

Find out how your county is doing by reading the full 2021 New Jersey County Report Card.
NEW Leadership 2021: A Nationwide Success! 
Over the past two weeks, CAWP hosted our annual NEW Leadership® summer institute…but with a new twist. Seeing the virtual format as an opportunity, NEW Leadership® Director Christabel Cruz and CAWP Manager of Public Programs Pooja Prabhakaran coordinated an unprecedented nationwide program for our full NEW Leadership® national network, with NEWL partners from around the country joining the flagship Susan N. Wilson NEW Leadership® New Jersey institute in a two-week event that combined workshops and programming for all national participants with breakout rooms devoted to localized content for each partner organization. Participants studied the political science of women and politics, discovered ways to get involved via political careers and student activism, and learned how diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints has the power to transform politics. NEWL 2021 students also got to network and participate in the social and community-building events that NEWL cohorts have cherished for decades. We give special thanks to the dozens of speakers who volunteered their time to offer their insights, experience, and advice to the next generation of aspiring public leaders, as well as to our NEW Leadership® partner programs, who recruited great students, helped secure speakers from their states, and created terrific state-based programming — we couldn’t do this work without them. We here at CAWP are in awe of the creativity and dedication of Christabel, Pooja, and student intern Jillian Cuzzolino in making NEWL 2021 such a tremendous success.
Public Opinion, Roe, and SCOTUS
CAWP’s Claire Gothreau wrote in Ms. Magazine about the Supreme Court taking up the abortion-restriction case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and how our newly-launched data on the gender gap in public opinion polling reflects national attitudes on abortion. In comparing the ideological makeup of the Court with national opinion on abortion access, Gothreau writes that while “it’s impossible to know what the outcome will be in this latest challenge to abortion rights. Americans generally support safe access to abortion and research suggests that SCOTUS decisions rarely deviate from public opinion. However, by historical standards, the current makeup of the Court is very conservative and in terms of the overall ideological makeup of the Court, it is likely out of line with ideology of the modal American citizen.” Read the full piece on the Ms. website and find our newly-launched research on the gender gap in public opinion polling here.
Women and Unequal Voice in Governors’ Races 
CAWP Senior Scholar Kira Sanbonmatsu and Research Associate Claire Gothreau published a research note in Politics, Groups, and Identities about their work studying campaign contributions in gubernatorial elections, which they analyze from the perspective of recipients and donors. “The underrepresentation of women donors may reduce the likelihood that women will enter gubernatorial primaries given that women donors tend to be more supportive of women candidates than men donors and that donations signal electoral viability,” they write. “Furthermore, some evidence suggests that parties and elected officials may be more attentive to the interests of the party donor class. This suggests that there is potential for the gender gap in political donations to impact the substantive representation of women with elected officials paying less attention to the interests and policy preferences of women.” Read the full piece online, as well as the underlying report, The Money Hurdle in the Race for Governor.
CAWP in the News
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